US 2767233 A
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Oct. 16, 1956 J. w. MULLEN n, ETAL THERMAL TRQNSFORMATION OF HYDROCARBONS File Jan. 7, 1952 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 F ,7 REACTANT comIANT 5 I, 5 4 s I FUEL g COMBUSTION REACTION OXIDANT ZONE zone QUENCHINGT ZONE 1 Z; d COOLANT 9- REACTANT FUEL coMsusTloukL REACTION OXiDANT zone 20m:
|o QUENCHING ZONE l COMBUSTION OXIDANT ZONE -'REACTANTS COOLANT INVENTORS JOHN B. FENN 8. JAMES W. MULLEN 1I BY J Mr am ATTORNEYS 1956 J. w. MULLEN u, ETAL 2,
THERMAL TRANSFORMATION OF HYDROCARBONS Fild Jan. '7, 1952 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 REACTANT COMBUSTION QUENCHING FUEL, OXIDA-NT REACTION zoNE, FR ZONE COOLAN'J' 1 Ig. jREACTANT COOLANT ZONE 2 ZCOMBUSTIONKREACTION zoNE ZONE REAC TANT REACTANT REACTANT 1 1' .7 as 32 9 I I: FUEL COMBUSTION 27 REACTION QUENCHING OXIDANT ZONE ZONE ZONE FUEL OXIDANT INVENTORS JOHN B. FENN &
JAMES w. MULLEN 11:
ATTORNEYS United States Patent THERMAL TRANSFORMATION OF HYDROCARBONS James W. Mullen H and John B. Fenn, Richmond, Va., assignors, by mesne assignments, to Chemical Construction Corporation, New York, N. Y., a corporation of Delaware Application January 7,1952, Serial No. 265,292
'5 Claims. 01. 260-479) This invention relates to the thermal transformation of hydrocarbons into useful products and particularly to the production, of acetylene by the thermal decomposition of hydrocarbons. The disadvantages of present methods for effecting thermal transformation of hydrocarbons arise to a large extent from inherent difficulties in bringing about rapid and uniform heat transfer to the reactant hydrocarbons and rapid and uniform cooling of reaction products. When a gas is heated by means of heat exchanger wherein heatis supplied to'one side of a wall or partition from a source such as combustion gases, steam, or hot liquids, the heat iscarried by conductivity through the wall and is taken up on the other side by the gas which is to be heated to reaction temperature. The heat transfer rates which are possible in such equipment are relatively small. Consequently, high' temperature gradients and large surfaces are necessary. More important for present con siderations, however, is the fact that the heating of the reactant gas cannot be made uniform so that portions thereof are subjected to very high temperatures While other portions remain relatively cool .and unreactive. In addition, since the rate at which the reactant gas can be heated up, and later cooled off, is slow, many side reactions occur and the reaction of interest may proceed further than is desirable with resultant loss in yield.
While improvement in heat transfer can be obtained by the direct mixing of hot gases such as superheated steam or hot combustion gases with the reactant gas, the rates of mixing of'gases under the conditions of prior methods are so slow that the uniformity and rapidity with which the reactant is brought to the desired reaction temperatures are far short ofthose necessary to obtain optimum yields and freedom from side reactions. A result of these conditions inherent in prior processes is that one portion of the reactant is subjected to excessive heating while another portion is insufficiently heated, so that even though the average temperatures and times of heating are within the desired ranges only a small proportion of the reactant is actually treated in accordance with such measured average conditions.
It is a principal object of the present invention to provide an improved method for the thermal transformation of hydrocarbons whereby rapid and uniform heating of reactants and cooling of reaction products is obtained.
Another object of the invention is to provide an improved method for the production of acetylene.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will appear hereinafter.
We have found that very advantageous improvements in the thermal transformation of hydrocarbons can be obtained by introducing the hydrocarbons into high temperature combustion products of a fuel and a gaseous oxidant passing at very high velocity of at least 1000 feet per second through an elongated chamber. Among the advantages of the method of the invention are increased yields of useful transformation products, great Patented Oct. 16, 1956 reduction in the formation of carbon, and very great production capacities. I It is particularly advantageous to carry out the process under such conditions that the gaseous combustion products attain sonic velocity in a portion of the high temperature zone. I p The necessary and sufiicient condition for sonic velocity is that in the sonic zone the ratio of static pressure (e. 'g. from a wall pressure tap) to stagnation pressure (e. g. from a total head or pitot tube or from a static tap where the velocity is verylow, say in an upstream enlargement in the duct) be about 1 to 2.' Thus, in aducted'burner exhausting" to atmospheric pressure (14.7 p. s. i."a.) if the air and fuel are supplied at about 30 p. s. i. a. (or 15 p. s. i. gauge), sonic velocity will obtain in the duct at the point of smallest .area. However, it is not necessary that they be supplied at this high pressure if an appropriate nozzle is used together with a diffuser downstream from the nozzle throat. Thus air and fuel supplied at as low as 20 p. s. i. a. or lower can be brought to sonic velocity at the throat of ,a converging nozzle and then expanded back to atmospheric pressure prior to exhausting into the atmosphere. In this case the static pressure at the throat of the nozzle would .still be half of the supply pressure or 10 p. s. i. a. but lessthan atmospheric pressure. The pump supplying the air would be required to deliver only at 20 p. s. i. a. even though final exhaustion was at 14.7 p. s. i. a. In other words, the ratio ofl to 2 for static absolute pressure to stagnation absolute pressure in order to meet the requirements for sonic velocity relates only to the pressures in the sonic zone and does not necessarily relate to the overall initial and final pressures. 1 In cases where low pressures may favor a desired reaction it is possible to practice the invention at subatmospheric pressures, by use of vacuum pumps or exhausters in the downstream end of the burner-reaction duct. Again the requirement of a 1 to 2 pressure ratio for sonic velocity relates to the static and stagnation pressures in the sonic zone and not necessarily overall. Thus by burning gasoline, for example, and air in a chamber maintained at pressures higher than about 15 pounds per square inch gauge, velocities above 3000 feet per second may be obtained. By working at higher pres sures and using appropriate expanding nozzles, the velocity of the exhaust stream from the burner can be much higher than 3000 feet per second. If such a high velocity stream ofhot gases is brought into confluence with a reactant stream, extremely rapid and uniform mixing of the .two streams is obtained resulting in rapid and uniform heating of the reactant. Moreover, with appropriate configuration of the apparatus, the resulting stream of mixed combustion gases and reactant will retain a very high velocity, so that by controlling the length of the reaction duct very precise control of the length of reaction time can be obtained.
Another advantage arising from the maintenance of critical flow at the burner exit is that .any pressure fluctua tions which may occur downstream therefrom are not reflected in the burner itself. This is of great practical importance since one of the major difficulties in using combustion gases as a direct heating means has been the tendency of the burners to oscillate, flash back, detonate, and blow out. By shielding the combustion zone from pressure fluctuations these difliculties are eliminated. Moreover, the mass flow of combustion products from a burner exhausting at sonic velocity can be controlled very closely so that the temperature of the resulting mix ture of combustion products and reactants can be maintained very near to the desired level by merely controlling the mass flow of the reactant stream. This is likewise tained high velocity;
Quarter of ai per e nd re u ng in almost 1,500 B. t. u.s' Pe cond o heat re ease.
Ma yf ther, advantag s accrue toltheu e of burners n 1 very desirablesincethetemperature coein'cients of many desired reaction products will leave'the ductl at sonic velocity. "However, because the temperature of the mix op ra ng at Pre s res sufiic nt y. highto maintain c itica 110 cond t n -at th e hau messy" refe r o as being fl h l .edqr perating underchoking?conditions, A bu r can also be caused c"- hcke? y .d's rea 'ing t e PI .re of the chamb r int e whi h it i haus n a't efthanrai s th pr sureiin V h comb ti n one 7 V Th accompany gdra ngs diagrammati ly il u trate several arrangements of apparatus for carrying out processes in 'accordance'with the invention.
: Referringto the drawings: 7 a I Fig; l s'hows an apparatus in which the reactant is introduceddnto hot combustion gases after they have attained'high velocity;
Fig. 2 shows an apparatus in which the reactant is introduced into the combustion gasesbefore they have at- Fig; 3 shows an apparatus in which the reactant is mixed with the 'hot combustion gas at high velocity; V Fig. '4 shows an apparatus in which the reactant is introduced together'with the oxidant. and fuel andc oolant is introduced into pen on; 7 7 r Fig, 5 shows an apparatus in which the reactant and the coolant are successively introduced prior to expansion r of the gases to high velocity;
the gas stream after cooling by ex 1 Fig. -6 illustrates an embodiment in which the reactant 'is introduced at the point of expansion of the gas to high I velocity; and e I Fig. 7 illustrates apparatus 'in'which a second supply of reaeta'nt'serves as the coolant;
In Fig. '1 gaseous fuel and oxidant are introduced under pressure'into one end of duct 1 which contains bafile 2 on whi-eh a flame isstabilized; Combustion of the fuel and oxidant is completed in the remainder of duct 1 which terminatesin nozzle 3. As long as the static pressure in duct 1 is approximately twice 'that in chamber 4, the velocity 'of the combustion products in the'throat of noz- '21s 3 will be sonic. A reactant stream is injected through 7 tubes to mix with the high velocity stream of hot combustion products, the relative mass flows of the combustion products and the reactant stream being adjusted to 7 p Big. 2 as in Fig. 1 fuel and oxidant are introduced Such burners are con due'to random motion, is the controlling't'actor in ch'emunder pressure'intoa duct 1' containing afiame stabilizing 1 3 356 .2. and are burned. In this case, however, the reexit end of the'duct. The time for mixing and reaction is determined by the length of duct 1 downstream from thev injection point of the reactant to the exit end 9 of the duct 1., So long as the pressure in the combustion zone 7 is roughly twice that; in the quenching chamber 10, the
. resulting m xture of combustion products, reactants, and
ture will be lower on account of the presence of colder reactants, the velocity, though still sonic, will be somewhat lower than in the case illustrated in Fig. l.
of a gas stream is determined by temperature .to a large extent; The stream of combustion gases, reactants and reaction products encounters a coolant spray from nozzle 12 which quenches further "reaction, after which theimix- J ture is'led to suitable separating means not shown. a a
Fig. 3 shows a variation of' the invention in which a liquid fuel can be used by introducing it as a spray from V th 'nozzle 12 into the incomingstreanjr ofloxidan t'in the combustion chamber 13. After combustion under pres sure in chamberilii the combustion gases'are' exhausted at sonic velocity from the end of the duct 14. The reactants in this case are introduced contrastrearnjinjection through duct '15; thefopposing of two "high velocity streams, as in this case, leads 'to extremely rapid and thorough mixing. A suitable reaction time is determined by'the size of reaction chamber 16. Another variation in this embodiment of the invention consists in the method of cooling. Since the mixture of combustion gases, re-.
panding in'a heat engine such" as turbine 17. This method 7 of cooling is very rapid and homogeneous in the sense that cooling is uniform throughout the gas mixture and 7 does not depend upon contact with a surface, whether water spray or 'heat "exchanger. Moreover, useful amounts'of power are recovered from the turbine; 'Although'suflicient cooling to quench the reaction mixture can be obtained by expansion through the turbine, further cooling in order'to facilitate separation of the desired products can be 'secured' by contact with coolant spray from'the nozzle 18 after the turbine.
' Fig. 4 shows a method of p'racti which the reactants are'introduced along with the fuel and oxidant directly into the combustion chamber, In this case very intimate contact of reactant with the combustion gases is assured. This configuration is panticularly useful when partial oxidation products of hydrocarbons 'are desired In fact, the reactant and 'fuel can be the For example, natural gas and'airi same'chemical species. may be introduce-dander *pressure'mto the duct 1 containing astabilizing. bafde Part of the natural gas 'is burned, thus providing heat fo-r promotion of the reaction} poses very rapidly .at high temperatures into water and carbon monoxide. In point of fact the expansion which naturally takes place after critical fiow'in throati? does efiectiwely stop further reaction. The reason for this is that the static temperature of the stream drops abruptly upon expansiontohigh velocity, the static temperature drop being equivalent to the increase in kinetic, energy of how due to the increase in stream velocity;'Since'the static temperature, i. e. kinetic energy of the molecules ical reaction rate, the sudden conversion of random energy (temperature) into velocity energy (fiow) upon expansion through the nozzle 19, effectively lowers the temperature and therefore the reaction rate so that the mixture is quenched. Of course, in such a case when the stream velocity is slowed down subsequently, at least a. substantial p'orti-onwof the velocity energy is reconvened to static temperature which would result in further reac 7 tion; However, if acoolant is sprayed into thestrearn' whileit is at high velocity the. mixture will be cooled sufiiciently so that the temperature rise upon slowing down the, strearn notbe sufiicient: to. start reaction again.
7 The reason for this lower velocity is; of course, that thesonic velocity cing'the invention in This is the reason for coolant spray 20. .Ihe config'ura tion of Fig. 4 is also adapted to the manufacture of acetylene. If methane and oxygen are introduced as the fueloxidan-t-reactant mixture, methane being prment in con siderable excess of the amount required to burn the oxygen, the excess methane is cracked tov acetylene in good yield. a
Fig. 5 shows an arrangement in which first the reactant and then the coolant are injected through nozzles 33 and 34 respectively into the hot combustion gases prior to their attainment of sonic velocity at throat of nozzle 21. Here advantage is again taken of the lowering of static temperature upon expansion throught a nozzle, with the added advantage that coolant is already dispersed through the stream so that good contact and further cooling of the mixture after expansion will occur rapidly.
Fig. 6 illustrates an embodiment of the invention in which the combustion gases are expanded after reaching sonic velocity in the throat of nozzle 22. The resulting supersonic stream aspirates the reactant by familiar jet pump action through inlet duct 23 and mixes thoroughly therewith in the reaction zone 24. The cooling rneans shown here comprises introducing the reaction mixture beneath the surface of a body of a coolant liquid, e. g. water maintained in container 25. The high velocity of the mixture brings about excellent contact with the water and provides for rapid cooling.
Fig. 7 represents a variation of the invention in which quenching of the reaction mixture is obtained by dilution with further reactant; Fuel and oxidant are introduced under pressure as before into the burner 1, and after being burned are expanded to supersonic velocity through nozzle 27. The high velocity stream of hot combustion gases then entrains reactants introduced through duct 28 and the resulting mixture'is allowed to react for a time depending upon the length of duct 29 comprising the mixing zone. In this case the pressure in burner 1 must be sufiiciently high so that even after expansion through nozzle 27 and entrainment of reactant, the pressure in reaction zone 29 will be sufliciently higher than the pressure in quenching zone 30 so that sonic velocity will also be obtained in throat of nozzle 31. Excess reactant, sufficient to cool the overall mixture below reaction temperature, is permitted to enter through duct 32 and is entrained and mixed with reaction mixture leaving nozzle 31, thereby quenching the reaction mixture in quenching zone 30. Thereafter the mixture is led to suitable separating means (not shown). This configuration is particularly adapted to -a recycling operation in Which a portion of the excess reactant can be separated and returnedas fuel to the burner. Relatively pure oxygen would be the desired oxidant under these conditions since the problem of removing large quantities of diluent nitrogen, present when air is the oxidant, would be eliminated.
The above illustrations indicate to some extent the variety of arrangements of apparatus to which the invention is adapted. There are many other possible configurations which take advantage of the essential features of the invention. The important and novel feature is the use of very high flow velocities, preferably sonic velocities, at the exhaust of the burner which is providing the heat necessary to bring about the desired reaction. This condition of sonic flow, or choking, at once provides for stability in the combustion of fuel and oxidant by making the burner insensitive to pressure variations downstream from the exhaust, permits flexibility in the control of mass flow through the burner by simple adjustment of the combustion chamber pressure, and makes possible very rapid and uniform heating and cooling of the reactants under controlled conditions because of the high velocities and pressures. Furthermore, if a portion of the cooling is accomplished by expansion through a heat engine, a substantial amount of power can be recovered which represents a considerable net saving over other processes which involve the use of combustion gases-as a direct heating means. Only by operating at relatively high pres-v sure ratios can the heats of combustion and reaction be directly and readily recovered as power. Most important, however, is the nature of the control of reaction time which can be effected on account of the high velocities. When it is considered that in oxidation reactions of hydrocarbons, for example, the reaction time to go all the Way to carbon dioxide and water is of the order of small fractions of milliseconds, it is apparent that in order to spread the reaction zone to reasonable dimensions so that quenching of the reaction at intermediate stages becomes possible, velocities of the order of thousands of feet per second are necessary. The present invention provides a means of obtaining such velocities. The necessity for rapid cooling also is apparent, and the relatively high' pressure ratios and velocities available when practicing the invention make this possible. Similar considerations obtain in many other high temperature reactions since reaction ,rates in general are an exponential function of temperatures.
Thus far the invention has been discussed generally in relation to its principles of operation. It will be apparent that its scope is not limited to any particular set of conditions but that advantages will be applicable to many circumstances. However, the practice of the invention is particularly adapted to certain processes. Any fuel-oxidant system which gives rise to gaseous products can be used as a heat source for chemical con.
version processes. However, only a few are of practical importance because of availability and cheapness. Air of course is the cheapest oxidant, and its use is well adapted to practice of the invention. There is required only suf' ficient pumping capacity to provide the necessary quanti-v ties at the pressures desired in the combustion chamber in order to obtain high velocity conditions at the exhaust. the large quantity of diluent nitrogen, which complicates subsequent separation steps after the reaction. This difficulty can be avoided if relatively pure oxygen is used. as the oxidant, since the combustion products are water and carbon dioxide, which are relatively easily removed from the reaction mixture. The question as to whether air or oxygen should be used will be determined by the costs of the material relative to the costs of subsequent separation of the reaction products. Either of these oxidants is admirably adapted to the practice of the invention.
With respect to the fuels to be used, fundamentally it is only necessary that the combustion products be es sentially gaseous. Since the heat generation step can be carried out entirely independently of the cracking or other thermal reaction step, a wide freedom in the choice of fuel while using the most desirable reactant without consumption of the latter for heat generation is provided. Again, however, economic considerations will dictate the choice. Wherever natural gas is readily available, its use is desirable because of the low cost. However, liquid hydrocarbons, water gas, producer gas, blast furnace gas, or even coal may be employed. The main difiiculty in using coal or other solid fuels is in feeding them to the combustion chamber under pressure. Liquids or gases are readily pumped in against pressure Whereas the movement of solids against a pressure head is more diflicult. If hydrogen is available together with cheap oxygen, the practice of the invention is very advantageous because of the fact that water is the only combustion product, and it is very readily separated from the reaction mixture. In this connection, mention should be made of the oxidant fuel ratios preferably employed in the practice of the invention. We have found that when oxidation of the reactants is to be avoided, it is dseirable to have at least stoichiometric amounts of fuel and oxidant present so that all the oxygen will be consumed by reaction with the fuel. Conversely, if an oxidizing atmosphere is desired, less than stoichiometric The main disadvantage in using air resides in acetylene .(dr'y basis).
quantities of=fuel are employed. Reducing-atmospheres are achieved by having fuel present in excess of stoichiornetricamounts. Temperaturecan alsobe contemperature must be controlled largely bythe relative mass fiows of combustion products and reactants and by controlling-the preheat of the air-fuel mixture -'or:the reactant stream, or both. There is ,also the possibility (not illustrated) of injecting a coolant such as water before .mixing the combustion products. with the reactant stream. This latter'expedientis of particular advantage when a neutral stream of combustion products ata tem peraturetlowerthan .the flame temperature is desired;
Theseparation of-the heat generation from the reaction also makes possible a wide range of. control of the. composition of the reaction mixture. :For example, in the production of acetylene byusing hydrogen or natural gas'asfuel and, fuel oil as the r'eactantit is possible to providea hightemperature .gas stream having a low carbon dioxide content and .a high water content while havingahigh carbon to. hydrogen ratio in .the' reactant .itself These conditions are particularly condncivento sirable that the temperature of the. reaction zone ibe at 'least.1300 K. and preferably above .1450 K. A reaction time in the range of to .10 seconds preferably about 1,0 .seconds is desirable. .Of course the optimum reaction time is less the higher the temperature of'the- V I reaction zone.
.The principlesvof the invention are more particularly illustrated in the following examples relating'to the production of acetylene and ethylene and-to the reforming of hydrocarbons.
Example 1.-Acetylene 1 Ahomogeneous mixture of .stoichiometric quantities of V pentane and air is preheated to 400 K. and-introduced at a mass flow of .78 lb./sec. into a stainless steel duct (1 of Pig. 1) of 1.875 inch inside diameter, wherein it is burned in a ram-jet type burner provided with an oxyhydrogen pilot burner which is stoichiometrically adjusted and provides 3% of the total heat supplied to the system. Thepilot burner acts as the flame. holder (2 of Fig. 1) and provides smooth continuous burning in the tail-pipe, an extension of the duct 22 /2 inches in length from the pilot burner to. the reaction chamber 4, comprising a 6 foot stainless steel tube of 3.875
' inch inside diameter. The static pressure in .the burner 1, six inches upstream from the pilot Z'is 31 p. s. i. g. under these conditions. The final 12 inches of the cornbustionsection 1 is sprayed with water .to. prevent burning out. At a point 1 /2 inches upstream from the reaction chamber 4 liquid pentane is injected into the combustion gases'through four /4 inchstaihless steel tubes equidistantly spaced around the circumference at a rate of .080 lb./sec. The gas stream .cooled' with Water at' the end of the reaction chamber contains 4.1% "of The absence of carbonformationin this and in the following examples is a particularly advantageous feature of the invention. as,.carbon particles are difficult to remove or scrub out ofl-the gas stream in commercial operation.
Example 2. Acetylene .This example is similar to Example -1 except that kerosene is injected into the combustion gases at a rate of .10 lb./sec. in place of the pentane of Example 1;
The reactiongases at the end of the reaction chamber contain 3.7% acetylene (dry basis). 7
I Example 3.-Acgzylene V In this example, liquid propane is injected into the reaction gases at the rate of .081 'lb./sec. and a gas stream containing 3.3% of acetylene. is produced.
' Example 4. -Acet yl ene When methane is introduced 'into the combustion gases instead of the hydrocarbons of the preceding examples, a substantial yield of acetylene in the reaction gases is likewise produced.
Example 5 -Eth ylene When the amount of liquid pentane introduced into the combustion gases, as in Example 1, is increased to .187 1b./ sec. the water-cooled reaction gases'at the end of the reaction chamber contain 13.1% of ethylene.
Example 6.Gas reforming-synthesis gas A stoichiometric mixture of oxygen and methane preheated to 400 K. is burnedin the apparatus described 5 in Example 1. The oxyhydrogcn pilot provides 2% of the heat imparted .to .the system. Ata point'ZJ/z inches upstream from the reaction chamber 4 methane, preheated to 400 K. .is injected-at the rate'of .465 lb./sec. through six stainless steel tubes equidistantly spaced around the circumference. The reaction gases at the end of the reaction chamber, at a temperature of about. 1250 are quenched with .a water spray and provide a synthesis gas containing hydrogen and carbon monoxide in the ratioof two to one. a By adjusting the waterspray used for quenching t a mass flow of 1.103 lbs/sec. whereby the temperature. of the gases is lowered from about -1250 K. to about 675 K., and passingthe resulting gaseous mixture through a second reaction chamber containing a catalyst activating the "conversion of carbon monoxide and water to carbon dioxide and hydrogen, a hydrogen and carbon dioxide containing gas having a very low contentis produced' 'There are many modifications possible in conjunction.
carbon monoxide by preheating the oxidant and fuel'before entrance into the combustion chamber, considerably higher tempera- ,tures aud velocities can be obtained in the exhauststream. In the production of acetylene preheating to temperatures of the order of 1000 K. or higher is desirable, the upper limit for preheating being determinedpractically only by materials of construction and coking of The'use of burners of thetype used in turbo-jet power plants are suited to parthe hydrocarbon feedstocks'.
ticular installations. With such a burner, part of the energy of the combustion reaction is used directly to a pump air to the burner'iu order'to get the desired pres sure level. V p Catalysts may be employed in the reactions by introducing .them in finely .divided form with thenfuel or" oxidant or. reactant or ;.by interposing the catalyst in fixed positioninithepath of-the gases These and many other modifications are possible Without departing from the principle of the invention which is the introduction of a hydrocarbon reactant into hot combustion gases in an elongated chamber in at least a portion of which the gases flow at a high velocity, at least 1000 feet per second, and preferably at sonic velocity or over, and thereafter quickly cooling the reaction gases and recovering the reaction product therefrom.
Although the use of sonic velocities in the combustion gases used for heating the reactants is very advantageous in the practice of the invention, it is not always necessary that this condition of critical flow exist. It is sometimes possible to obtain the desired mixing and reaction-timespace relationships at velocities that are considerably below sonic velocity. The essential feature of the invention consists in taking advantage of the rapid and uniform mixing between hot combustion gases and reactants when the former are flowing at high velocity at the time of admixture with the latter. We have found that velocities as low as 1000 feet per second can provide this rapid mixing. Depending upon the temperature of the gases, 1000 feet per second can be almost any fraction of sonic velocity. Below this value the mixing rates begin to drop off. When subsonic flow velocities are employed certain of the advantages of sonic velocity, such as shielding the combustion zone from downstream pressure fluctuations, are lost. However, for some reactions in which the rates are not too rapid so that velocities of 1000 feet per second will provide suificient extension of the reaction zone in space to permit adequate control, it may be desirable to employ these lower than sonic velocities in order to decrease pumping or compressor costs.
This application is a continuation-in-part of our application Serial No. 165,762, filed June 2, 1950.
1. A method of effecting thermal transformation of hydrocarbons which comprises continuously burning a flowing mixture of fuel and gaseous oxidant within an elongated chamber and exhausting the resulting gases at a static pressure not more than about one-half of the pressure of combustion and thereby producing within said chamber a high temperature zone in at least part of which the gaseous combustion products flow at a velocity of at least 1,000 feet per second, the rate of supply of said mixture of fuel and oxidant being such as to produce within said high temperature zone a temperature of at least 1400 K., introducing an aliphatic hydrocarbon into said high temperature zone, quickly cooling the reaction product-containing combustion prodnets and recovering the hydrocarbon reaction products therefrom.
2. A method of producing acetylene which comprises continuously burning a flowing mixture of fuel and a gaseous oxidant in an elongated chamber and exhausting the resulting gases at a static pressure not more than about one-half of the pressure of combustion and thereby producing within said chmaber a high temperature zone in at least part of which the gaseous combustion products flow at a velocity of at least 1000 feet per second, the rate of supply of said mixture of fuel and gaseous oxidant being such as to produce within said high temperature zone a temperature of at least 1400 K., introducing an aliphatic hydrocarbon into said zone and forming acetylene therefrom by the high temperature and high velocity conditions existing therein, quickly cooling the acetylene-containing combustion products, and re covering the acetylene therefrom.
3. A method of producing acetylene which comprises continuously burning a flowing mixture of a hydrocarbon fuel and a gaseous oxidant in an elongated chamber and exhausting the resulting gases at a static pressure not more than about one-half of the pressure of combustion and thereby producing within said chamber a high temperature zone in at least part of which the gaseous combustion products fiow at a velocity of at least 1000 feet per second, the rate of supply of said mixture of fuel and gaseous oxidant being such as to produce within said high temperature zone a temperature of at least 1400 K., introducing an aliphatic hydrocarbon into said zone and forming acetylene therefrom by the high temperature and high velocity conditions existing therein, quickly cooling the acetylene-containing combustion products, and recovering the acetylene therefrom.
4. A method of producing acetylene which comprises continuously burning a flowing mixture of fuel and a gaseous oxidant in an elongated chamber and exhausting the resulting gases at a static pressure not more than about one-half of the pressure of combustion and thereby producing within said chamber a high temperature zone at least part of which the gaseous combustion products flow at a velocity of at least 1000 feet per second, the rate of supply of said mixture of fuel and gaseous oxidant being such as to produce within said high temperature zone a temperature of at least 1400 K., injecting a stream of aliphatic hydrocarbon reactant into the gases in said zone and bringing about a practically instantaneous mixing of said hydrocarbon with said gases by the high linear velocity thereof, forming acetylene from said hydrocarbon by the high temperature and high velocity conditions existing in said zone, quickly cooling the acetylene-containing combustion products, and recovering the acetylene therefrom.
5. A method of producing acetylene which comprises continuously burning a flowing mixture of fuel and a gaseous oxidant preheated to a temperature of about 400 K. in an elongated chamber and exhausting the resulting gases at a static pressure not more than about one-half of the pressure of combustion and thereby producing within said chamber a high temperature zone in at least part of which the gaseous combustion products flow at a velocity of at least 1000 feet per second, the rate of supply of said mixture of fuel and gaseous oxidant being such as to produce within said high temperature zone a temperature of at least 1400 K., injecting a stream of aliphatic hydrocarbon reactant into the gases in said zone and bringing about a practically instantaneous mixing of said hydrocarbon with said gases by the high linear velocity thereof, forming acetylene from said hydrocarbon by the high temperature and high velocity conditions existing in said zone, quickly cooling the acetylene-containing combustion products, and recovering the acetylene therefrom.
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